WHEEL OF FORTUNE, THE
This is a symbol, wide in scope, much used in the ornamental arts and in architecture, complex and enclosing several layers of meaning. Some of the disagreement about its symbolic sense may be due to confusion of the disk which is immobile with the wheel which rotates. There is, however, no objection to the fusion of the two symbols with a view to reconciling the two ideas of the disk and the wheel. One of the elementary forms of wheel-symbolism consists of the sun as a wheel, and of ornamental wheels as solar emblems . As Krappe has pointed out, the concept of the sun as a wheel was one of the most widespread notions of antiquity. The idea of the sun as a two-wheeled chariot is only at one remove from this.
These same ideas can be found among the Aryans and also among the Semites . Given the symbolic significance of the sun as a source of light standing for intelligence and of spiritual illumination, it is easy to understand why the Buddhist doctrine of the solar wheel has been so widely admired . 'Catherine-wheels', and the 'wheel of fire' rolled down the hillside in popular festivals of the summer-solstice; and the mediaeval processions in which wheels were mounted on boats or carts, as well as the torture-on-the-wheel; and such traditions as the 'Wheel of Fortune' or the 'Wheel of the Year', all point to a deeply rooted solar or zodiacal symbolism. The function of the wheel-offire was, in essence, to 'stimulate' the sun in its activity and to ward offwinter and death . It is, therefore, a symbolic synthesis of the activity ofM cosmic forces and the passage of time .
There is, it must be admitted, a discrepancy between the interpretation of those who see the wheel particularly as a solar symbol, and those who relate it to the symbolism of the pole although basically both allude to the mystery of the rotational tendency of all cyclic processes. The swastika, being an intermediate sign between the cross and the wheel, is similarly regarded by some as a solar and by others as a polar sign. Guenon tends towards the latter hypothesis . But, in any case, the allusion is, in the last resort, to the splitting up of the world-order into two essentially different factors: rotary movement and immobility—or the perimeter of the wheel and its still centre, an image of the Aristotelian 'unmoved mover'.
This becomes an obsessive theme in mythic thinking, and in alchemy it takes the form of the contrast between the volatile moving and therefore transitory and the fixed. The dual structure of the wheel is usually indicated by characteristic patterns which tend to confine geometric ornamentation—either stylized or figurative—to the periphery, while the round, empty space in the middle is either left vacant, or a single symbol is inscribed therein—a triangle, for instance, or a sacred figure. Guenon notes that the Celtic wheelsymbol persisted into the Middle Ages, and adds that the ornamental oculi of Romanesque churches and the rose-windows of Gothic architecture are versions of this wheel. He also shows that there is an indubitable connexion between the wheel and such emblematic flowers as the rose in the West and the lotus in the East 89in other words, figures patterned after the mandala.
The rim of the wheel is divided into sectors illustrating phases in the passage of time. In alchemy, there are numerous symbolic representations of the wheel, denoting the circulatory process: the ascending period is shown on one side, the descending on the other. These alchemic stages are also represented as birds soaring heavenwards or swooping down to earth, denoting sublimation and condensation, in turn corresponding to evolution and involution, or spiritual progress and regression . The 'Wheel of Law, Truth and Life' is one of the eight emblems of good luck in Chinese Buddhism. It illustrates the way of escape from the illusory world of rotation and from illusions, and the way towards the 'Centre' . The wheel which is divided up into sectors by radii drawn from its outer perimeter to the circumference of an inner circle, is a graphic symbol sometimes seen in water-marks of mediaeval times over a plant-stem located between the horns of an ox symbolizing sacrifice; Bayley opines that this wheel represents the 'communion of saints', or the reunion of the faithful in the mystic Centre .
Rene Guenon says, in relation to Taoist doctrine, that the chosen one, the sage, invisible at the centre of the wheel, moves it without himself participating in the movement and without having to bestir himself in any way. He quotes, among others, the following Taoist passages: 'The sage is he who has attained the central point of the Wheel and remains bound to the "Unvarying Mean", in indissoluble union with the Origin, partaking of its immutability and imitating its non-acting activity'; 'He who has reached the highest degree of emptiness, will be secure in repose. To return to the root is to enter into the state of repose', that is, to throw off the bonds of things transitory and contingent .
Wheel of Fortune, The
The tenth enigma of the Tarot pack. It is an allegory which turns upon the general symbolism of the wheel. Based upon the symbolism of the number two, it expresses the equilibrium of the contrary forces of contraction and expansion— the principle of polarity. The wheel is set in motion by a handle— fateful because it is irreversible—and it is floating on a figurative representation of the ocean of chaos, supported by the masts of two boats which are joined one to the other; in each boat there is a snake, symbolizing the two principles of the active and the passive. The ascending half of this wheel has an effigy of Hermanubis and his caduceus, while the descending portion displays a Typhon-like monster with its trident; the two halves symbolize respectively the constructive and destructive forces of existence, the first figure being related to the constellation of Canis, and the second to Capricorn denoting, within the symbolism of the Zodiac, the principle of dissolution initiated in Pisces. Above the wheel, this allegorical card has a motionless sphinx, alluding to the mystery of all things and the intermingling of the disparate .
The symbolism of the whip is a mixture of that of the knot or bow and that of the sceptre, both of them signs for domination, mastery and superiority. It expresses the idea of punishment, like the truncheon and the club—counterbalanced by the sword as a symbol of purification—and also the power to encircle and overwhelm . In Egypt, the lash, because of its morphological association with lightning, was the attribute of Min. the god of the wind, and, in general, of certain deities reigning over storms . The Dioscuri carried whips; and bronze whips figured in the cult of Zeus in Dodona .
The Egyptian Pharaohs used the whip as an emblem of power. The Romans used to hang their whips in their triumphal chariots . Logically, the whip ought also to be related to rites of flagellation or fecundity . It is, furthermore, an attribute of the 'Terrible Mother' .
Characterized by spiral or helicoid movement, this symbol expresses the dynamism of the three-dimensional cross— that is, of space itself. It is, therefore, symbolic of universal evolution.
Whistling is, to follow Jung, like clacking the tongue in so far as both are archaic ways of calling to and attracting the attention of theriomorphic deities—or totemic or deified animals . This explains the social taboo upon whistling.
The image of the Wild Man or savage, covered only with a loin-cloth, or a garment of leaves or skins, is a common one in the folklore of almost every country. It is related to, but not identical with, such mythic beings as the 'snowman', the ogre, giants, etc. In heraldry, the image takes the form of the supporter of an escutcheon, when its significance becomes analogous to that of the animals that normally fulfil this function—that is, they express, by virtue of their bilateral symmetry, the counterbalancing of base forces, while sustaining certain spiritual and sublimating elements the heraldic symbols themselves. Sometimes one finds Wild Women of similar aspect and similar significance.
Frazer has described some folklore customs which are unquestionably related to this fabulous woman. Some regions of Germany, during Whitsuntide, hold a festival called 'the Expulsion of the Wild Mans, in which the part of the savage is played by a youth, covered in leaves and moss, who hides in the woods. The others then begin a chase which ends with his figurative death. Next day they make a stretcher and place on it a straw puppet resembling the Wild Man. This they carry in procession to a lake where the executioner throws it into the water . In Bohemia, the 'king' makes his appearance clothed in grass and flowers.
The Wild Man seems to coincide with the 'Scapegoat' in the ritual assassination of the king. Jung suggests that this myth symbolizes the primitive or baser part of the personality, or the unconscious in its perilous and regressive aspect, which he has termed the 'shadow' . It is also connected with fabulous islands such as the island of St. Brendan or the land of Prester John.
The wind is air in its active and violent aspects, and is held to be the primary Element by virtue of its connexion with the creative breath or exhalation. Jung recalls that in Arabic and paralleled by the Hebrew the word ruh signifies both 'breath' and 'spirit' . At the height of its activity, the wind gives rise to the hurricane a synthesis and 'conjunction' of the four Elements,
which is credited with the power of fecundation and regeneration It was taken up in this sense by the alchemists, as can be seen for example in Jamsthaler's Viatorium Spagyricum Frankfort, 162 .
The winds were numbered and brought into correspondence with the cardinal points and the signs of the Zodiac, so as to bring out their cosmic significance. In Egypt and Greece the wind was reckoned to possess certain evil powers; but for the Greeks, this menacing implication, which they associated with Typhon, was reversed from that moment when the fleet of Xerxes was destroyed by a tempest .
Since it consists of an aperture, the window expresses the ideas of penetration, of possibility and of distance, and because it is square in shape, its implications are rational and terrestrial. It is also symbolic of consciousness , especially when it is located at the top of a tower, by analogy with the head of the human figure. Divided windows carry a secondary significance, which may at times even be the predominant sense, deriving from the number of openings or lights and from the inter-relationships between the relevant number-symbolism and the general symbolism of the window.
An ambivalent symbol like the god Dionysos himself. On the one hand wine, and red wine in particular, symbolizes blood and sacrifice; on the other, it signifies youth and eternal life, like that divine intoxication of the soul hymned by Greek and Persian poets which enables man to partake, for a fleeting moment, of the mode of being attributed to the gods .
An attribute of the satyr and of Silenus. In Greek, the phrase 'to untie the wine-skin' meant to indulge in Venusian delights . The phrase itself is suggestive of the lingam in the conjunction of a masculine, phallic element the feet of the goat and a feminine element the skin as a receptacle. This idea was taken up by Christians who linked it with the idea of sin, and the wine-skin thereby came to symbolize evil-mindedness or a heavy conscience.
Pinedo has pointed out that the wine-skin carried by various figures in Romanesque designs—such as that on the Porta Speciosa of the sanctuary at Estibaliz—bears precisely this meaning, and he quotes the Psalms in support: 'He gathereth the waters of the sea together as in a wine-skin(The English Authorised version reads: 'He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap. . .' The Septuagint gives 'wine-skin.—Translator.): he layeth up the depth in storehouses' Psalms xxxiii, . Analogous in significance are the haversack, the shepherd's pouch, and also the horn-pipe and the bladder of the buffoon though, because of his sacrificial character, the buffoon alludes to the sins of others.
In the more general sense, wings symbolize spirituality, imagination, thought. The Greeks portrayed love and victory as winged figures, and some deities, such as Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite were at first—though not later—also depicted with wings. According to Plato, wings are a symbol of intelligence, which is why some fabulous animals are winged, depicting the sublimation of those symbolic qualities usually ascribed to each animal. Pelops' horses, and Pegasus, as well as Ceres' snakes, have this attribute. Wings are also found on certain objects such as heroes' helmets, the caduceus and the thunderbolt in the cult of Jupiter .
It follows that the form and nature of the wings express the spiritual qualities of the symbol. Thus, the wings of night-animals express a perverted imagination, and Icarus' wax wings stand for functional insufficiency . In Christian symbolism it is said that wings are simply the light of the sun of justice, which always illuminates the mind of the righteous. Since wings also signify mobility, this meaning combines with that of enlightenment to express the possibility of 'progress in enlightenment' or spiritual evolution . In alchemy, wings are always associated with the higher, active, male principle; animals without wings are related to the passive female principle . It should also be recalled that, since the foot is regarded as a symbol of the soul , the wings on the heels of some deities, especially Mercury, stand for the power of spiritual elevation comparable in essence with cosmic evolution. Jules Duhem, in his thesis on the history of flight, remarks that, in Tibet, 'Buddhist saints travel through the air wearing a special kind of shoes known as "light feet"' .
Every withdrawal, retreat or concealment—like the moon and like sleep—symbolizes that period of life before and after its involution as matter, that is, before and after the manifest life of appearances.
Symbolic of valour among the Romans and the Egyptians. It also appears as a guardian in a great many monuments . In Nordic mythology we are told of a monstrous wolf, Fenris, that would destroy iron chains and shackles and was eventually shut up in the bowels of the earth. It was also said that, with the twilight of the gods—the end of the world—the monster would break out of this prison too, and would devour the sun. Here, then, the wolf appears as a symbol of the principle of evil, within a pattern of ideas which is unquestionably related to the Gnostic cosmogony. Nordic mythology presupposes that cosmic order is possible only through the temporary shackling of the chaotic and destructive potential of the universe—a potential which through the process of Symbolic Inversion—q.v. must triumph in the end. The myth is also connected with all other concepts of the final annihilation of the world, whether by water or by fire.
In anthropology, woman corresponds to the passive principle of nature. She has three basic aspects: first, as a siren, lamia or monstrous being who enchants, diverts and entices men away from the path of evolution; second, as the mother, or Magna mater the motherland, the city or mother-nature related in turn to the formless aspect of the waters and of the unconscious; and third, as the unknown damsel, the beloved or the anima in Jungian psychology. In his Symbols of Transformation, Jung maintains that the ancients saw Woman as either Eve, Helen, Sophia or Mary corresponding to the impulsive, the emotional, the intellectual, and the moral .
One of the purest and all-embracing archetypes of Woman as anima is Beatrice in Dante's Commedia . All allegories based upon the personification of Woman invariably retain all the implications of the three basic aspects mentioned above. Of great interest are those symbols in which the Woman appears in association with the figure of an animal—for example, the swan-woman in Celtic and Germanic mythology, related to the woman with the hoof of a goat in Hispanic folklore. In both cases the woman disappears once her maternal mission has been completed and, similarly, the virgin qua virgin 'dies' in order to give way to the matron . In iconography it is common to find parts of the female figure combined with that of a lion.
The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, characterized by her destructiveness, had the body of a woman and the head and therefore the mind of a lion. Conversely, a figure with a lion's body and a woman's head appears in the Hieroglyphica of Valeriano as an emblem of the hetaira . The inclusion of feminine, morphological elements in the composition of traditional symbols such as the sphinx always alludes to a background of nature overlaid with the projection of a concept or of an entire complex of cosmic intuitions. In consequence, the Woman is an archetypal image of great complexity in which the decisive factor may be the superimposed symbolic aspects—for example, the superior aspects of Woman as Sophia or Mary determine her function as a personification of science or of supreme virtue; and when presented as an image of the anima, she is superior to the man because she is a reflection of the loftiest and purest qualities of the man.
In her baser forms as Eve or as Helen—the instinctive and emotional aspects—Woman is on a lower level than the man. It is here, perhaps, that she appears at her most characteristic—a temptress, the Ewig Weibliche, who drags everything down with her, and a symbol comparable with the volatile principle in alchemy, signifying all that is transitory, inconsistent, unfaithful and dissembling.
A mother-symbol . Burnt wood signifies wisdom and death . The magic and fertilizing propensities of the wood burnt in sacrificial rites are supposed to be transmitted to the ashes and the charcoal. Cremation is regarded as a return to the 'seed'state; this has given rise to many rites and folklore customs, related in turn to fire-symbolism .
Symbolically, the world is the realm in which a state of existence is unfolded , comprising many component parts adhering together. Used in the plural, the term pertains, in a sense, to space-symbolism, but the 'worlds' are really only different modes of the spirit . The explanation of the cosmic and moral significance of the three worlds the infernal, the terrestrial and the celestial is to be sought in the symbolism of level. The inferior must not always be equated with the subterranean, for, in megalithic cultures, the latter was usually located high up, or in the hollow interior of mountains conceived as the dwelling-place of the dead. Guenon has pointed out that references to the 'subterranean world' are found in a large number of cultural traditions, in which the 'cult of the cavern' or cave is linked with that of the 'centre'. One must also bear in mind the equation of the cavern with the cave of the heart, the latter being considered as the Centre of being or the Egg of the World .
The twenty-first enigma of the Tarot pack. The fact that the series consists of ternaries and septenaries is further proof that the number 21 implies a synthesis, or the totality of the manifest world, that is, the world of space as a reflection of permanent creative activity. This idea is represented in the allegorical image of this playing-card by a young girl running with two small sticks inside a garland which is surrounded by the cosmic quaternary or tetramorphs. The sticks are symbolic of polarization inducing the rotational motion of all things in the entire cosmos. According to Wirth, this girl also represents major Fortune, whereas minor Fortune corresponds to the tenth card of the Tarot. The quaternary is connected with the Elements, and the garland with the cosmic process .
The host of possibilities opened up by the very word 'world', points to the great number of symbolic images capable of reflecting its multiple aspects. All the great symbols are really images of the world: The septenary, for example, in the form of candelabra with seven branches, reflecting the arrangement of the planets; and bilateral symmetry as, for example, in the caduceus of Mercury, is the image of the world in so far as it is an equilibrium of hostile forces; and all forms of wheel symbols, such as the Zodiac, mandalas, or the Tarot pack, correspond to the world in so far as it appears as a cycle or succession of changes. But the essence of the world is the conflict between time and eternity, matter and spirit, or the conjunction of opposites which yet remain separate on the plane of existence—a conflict, that is, between continuity and discontinuity, usually conveyed by means of images reconciling the square with the circle, sometimes simply by 'squaring the circle' as in alchemic practice, and sometimes by multiplying one of the component elements by four, as in the oriental pentacle of Laos.
The arrangement of the tetramorphs as a spiritual quaternary, keeping the centre as an image of the Origin that is, heaven which is counterbalanced by the world of manifestation, is sometimes represented as a city with four towers and four gates, always with an image of paramount significance in the centre . Frobenius recounts the history of a group of interesting symbols of this kind bearing upon the ritual cups or chalices of Ethiopia inspired in the ceramics of Susa in the fourth millenary before our era. In the middle of these cups there is a cross or some other symbol either of the swastika or of the damero type; this may be a representation of earth, for on the edges there is a motif sketched in, which might be an image of water. An African cup from Benin has a sea-serpent in the same position; here the symbol may be related to the dragon biting his own tail as in the Gnostic Ouroboros. A wooden disc from Morka shows an image of the sun in the centre, then a double chain suggesting the ocean, and finally an outer corona divided into four parts to accord with the four cardinal points corresponding in turn with the seasons and the four Elements. But Frobenius also speaks of three-dimensional images of the world.
He relates how, in 1910, he happened to be in the Yoruba West Africa, where he made his way to the holy city of Ife, and there, in a place sacred to the god Ejar, he found an object like a kind of platform with a cone at each of its four corners and another larger one in the centre, surmounted by a cup or chalice. The central cone is the Mountain of the World the mystic mandorla; and the four others correspond to the cardinal points. He notes the relationship between this image and certain thrones with five supports . Quite apart from the pictorial images of the Pantokrator and the tetramorphs, which are comparable to the above, Christianity too has an example of the same kind of pattern, depicted three-dimensionally, in the baptismal font at Estibaliz. Pinedo describes it as follows: The base is a heavy column, with four smaller ones close to it analogous with the Centre and the four cardinal pointsabove it, a lotus flower is shown opening its corolla a symbol of the world made manifest, and of nativity. Above this corolla, there IS a colonnade with arches on which are inscribed other smaller, trefoiled arches.
In the spaces there are diverse symbolic beings connoting the plane of cosmic life, that is, of existence. Above the arches, there is a pattern representing the battlements of the celestial Jerusalem—paradise regained . As a symbol of the world, then, in all its fundamental aspects, this image is the most artistic, the most exact and complete known to us.
This concept is related ideologically to that of the Great Mother and to that of the moon as a source of change and transmutation. It has certain negative characteristics, e.g. a tendency to divide and multiply—which is the essential prerequisite for all creative and reproductive processes . Only in literature is the World Soul a single whole, and it is then equivalent to the 'mystic void' of Hindu and Hebrew traditions.
Jung defines the worm as a libidinal figure which kills instead of giving life . This comes from its underground associations, its base characteristics, its connexion with death and with the biological stages of dissolution and the primary. Thus, it is death which the worm symbolizes—but death which is relative from the point of view of what is superior or organized; basically, like the snake, it denotes crawling, knotted energy.
The phrase 'the web of life' is an eloquent expression of the symbolism of woven fabric which is not only concerned with ideas of binding and increase through the blending of two elements the warp and the woof—the passive and the active, nor is it merely equivalent to creation; rather does it denote the mystic apprehension of the world of phenomena as a kind of veil which hides the true and the profound from sight.
As Porphyry observed: 'The ancients called the heavens "a veil" because, in a sense, they are the garments of the gods.' And as Plato said: 'The one and only Demiurge commands the secondary demiurges'— that is, the mythological gods—'to bind the immortal to the mortal in a symbolic fabric'. In addition to the symbolism of weaving, this idea embraces that of the Gemini signifying the dual composition of all things in existence, one part being immortal and the other mortal.
Plutarch observed that weaving was invented by Isis with the assistance of her sister Nephthys . The legend of the 'Web of Penelope' is related to this. Guenon sees the warp and woof as equivalent to the horizontal and vertical limbs of the cosmic cross, where the upright represents the various states of being and the horizontal the degree of development reached by these states. He also mentions that the two lines of the loom can be identified with the masculine and the feminine principles, and that this is why, in the Upanishads, the Supreme Brahma is designated 'He upon whom the worlds are woven as warp and woof'. At the same time, the alternation of life and death, condensation and dissolution, the predominance of Yang or of Yin, are, for the Taoists, like the alternating 'waves' of thread in the weave of the fabric . Apart from this essential symbolism, a fabric has further symbolic meanings deriving from its colour, form and function (where applicable).
Piobb, with particular reference to Scotch tartans, has pointed out that certain types of fabric are characterized by patterns with an l esoteric purport . Ornamental designs have the same symbolic significance whether they appear in a fabric, or are engraved on a g stone or painted in a miniature see Graphics. The veil, as an elemental form of weaving and as clothing, is symbolic of 'wrapping', that is, of matter. The seven veils in Salome's dance, or in the myth of Ishtar, correspond to the seven planetary spheres and their respective influences.